By Matt Rowland
The American vaping industry is under fire by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that wants to classify all e-cigs as tobacco products and potentially make the sales of flavored e-liquids illegal. The agency’s argument is that vape juices with names like cotton candy and bubblegum are simply too tempting for teenagers to avoid. Meanwhile, vaping advocates counter that the over 7,000 different flavors currently available make it easier for adults to switch from smoking to the 95 percent less harmful alternative of vaping.
Two scientists from the University of Michigan decided to conduct a study based on these two competing ideologies. The premise of the research was to identify which is greater: The appeal of vaping to teens and never-smokers versus the health benefits of vaping and the potential decreases in mortality rates from smoking over the next 50+ years.
The University of Michigan vaping study
Kenneth Warner and David Mendez from the university’s School of Public Health began their research by using a dynamic model that simulates, tracks, and predicts smoking related deaths over time. Factors taken into consideration include:
Estimated quantities of smoking and/or vaping initiation over time.
Estimated numbers of smoking cessation success rates over time.
The research assumes that vaping leads to smoking initiation by an average of 2 percent.
It also assumes a 10 percent average smoking cessation rate per year.
Sensitivity analyses increases the smoking initiation rates to 6 percent while reducing the smoking cessation rates to 5 percent.
Other analysis reduces the possible health benefits of successful smoking cessation by 10 percent on average when smokers choose to switch to vaping rather than quit.
Based on these statistics, Warner and Mendez’s dynamic model predicts that the worldwide population gains about 3.3 million years of life by 2070. These statistics are true even when the 10 percent reduction in health benefits of smokers-turned-vapers (rather than quitting outright) is taken into consideration.
“With base-case assumptions, the population gains almost 3.3 million life-years by 2070. If all people who quit smoking by vaping lose 10% of the benefit of quitting smoking, the net life-year gain falls to 2.4 million. Under worst-case assumptions, in which vaping increases smoking initiation by 6% and cessation by 5%, and vaping-induced quitters lose 10% of the health benefits, the population gains over 580000 life-years.”
In short, the researchers claim that the health benefits of vaping far outweigh the possible downsides related to “vaping as a gateway” arguments, many of which have already been disproven scientifically. In fact, an recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) all but dismisses this outlandish theory entirely. The University of Michigan study entitled E-cigarettes: Comparing the Possible Risks of Increasing Smoking Initiation with the Potential Benefits of Increasing Smoking Cessation is published in the Oxford Academic journal.